The dangers ahead, By Olusegun Adeniyi

Posted by News Express | 19 March 2015 | 3,407 times

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In October last year, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a report on how the falling oil prices would affect members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), many of which “need oil prices to average way above the current Brent crude oil price of $90 a barrel to balance their books.” Using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Arab Petroleum Investments Corp and Deutsche Bank, the WSJ wrote that the “struggling OPEC members are suffering partly for failing to diversify their economies when oil prices were high”, as well as not investing “enough in their oil industries to sustain them through leaner times.”

In the estimated projections of how much a barrel of oil would have to sell for before the budget of each OPEC country would balance, only six (Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Angola) would fare well with the price below $100. According to the WSJ report, it would take a price of $119 per barrel for Nigeria’s budget to balance. A month later, data from the same IMF and Deutsche Bank quoted by the BBC had pushed the price per barrel that Nigeria would require for a balanced budget to $123! Today, it must be hovering above $130 per barrel at a time the commodity is actually selling for less than half of that price.

What that suggests is that our economy is in dire straits hence more than at any other period in our history, this is the time to begin a meaningful conversation about the future of our country. The snag though is that for such to happen, there has to be a unity of purpose and a common national resolve. Yet with the presidential election just about ten days away, the feeling among most Nigerians is that the contest should come quickly and go so that we can get on with our lives given how almost everything has been in abeyance. The sadder part is that things may never remain the same again in our country no matter who wins, given the level of hate being propagated in the course of the campaigns.

I have witnessed many elections in Nigeria but I have never experienced anything like this before. Rather than tell Nigerians what President Goodluck Jonathan will do differently if re-elected, his campaign team in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has instead been producing and circulating damaging home videos about their opponents. On the other hand, supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), have also spent considerable time abusing the president and demonising his government while they may have equally started producing their own videos about key opponents.

In the bizarre season that we are in, President Jonathan has apparently been told that all it would require to get the votes of Nigerians is for him to be running around Abuja and stretching his legs with some pot-bellied fat cats, perhaps to lend credence to the “prophecy” being propagated by Governor Ayo Fayose that age has a correlation with death so we should “choose life”. Some members of the opposition have gone even further as to manufacture death certificates for their rivals within, in the bid to supplant them as APC candidates, even as a mere telephone conversation that never was with the King of Morocco has suddenly become a very important election manifesto.

Rather than be about issues, the campaigns on both sides have been dominated by gossips, name-calling and character assassination. Now, we know which man is sleeping with which man, who is using what drugs and all such dirty details about some of our big men. But how do those lurid advertorials advance our country or solve the problems afflicting our people?

I need to stress here that at election periods, it is expected that people would take sides and that partisanship is normal. But propagating hate and sowing seeds of discord and division is not. For sure, politicians are no paragons of virtues anywhere in the world and it is not only in Nigeria that you see them demonise one another. But it is perhaps only in our country that such would become the only item on the campaign agenda to the extent that while there may be little to cheer about the coming elections, there is indeed a lot to fear in the aftermath.

We should all be worried particularly by the ongoing mobilisation of ethnic militias which has the potential to produce a violent escalation of political differences, especially after the votes are in, given the role militias played in the post-election violence of Kenya in 2008. Those who are busy mobilising these groups, in pursuit of some narrow agenda, are reducing what is otherwise a clear national political contest to the level of primordial confrontations. It is a dangerous gambit.

This piece by Adeniyi (shown in photo) originally appeared in his column “The Verdict” in today’s edition of ThisDay under the headline, ‘When the madness is over...’ Adeniyi can be reached via olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com


Source: News Express

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